Charlotte man involved in alleged sex affair with pastor talks publicly

Bishop Eddie Long is the minister of New Birth Charlotte which is located in Huntersville.
Bishop Eddie Long is the minister of New Birth Charlotte which is located in Huntersville.

By Kay Johnson - email
Jeff Rivenbark - email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - One of the four men who is accusing Bishop Eddie Long of sexual misconduct says he used to cry himself to sleep.

Long is the pastor of a 25,000-member congregation north of Atlanta as well as New Birth Charlotte, a large satellite church located in Huntersville.

Last week, four young men came forward with lawsuits which claimed that Long lured them into sexual relationships with gifts and overseas trips when they were 17 and 18 years old.

The third accuser, Jamal Parris, who is now 23, was a former personal assistant to Long.  He says it was a job which came with a lot of suffering.

Parris calls the megachurch pastor, a monster.  This week, Parris stepped forward to address Long's denial of the charges.  Parris claims Long coerced all of the men into having sexual relationships.

"That man [Long] cannot look me in the eye and tell me we did not live this pain," Parris said.  "I cannot forget the way that he [Long] made me cry many nights when I drove in his cars on the way home, could not take enough showers to wipe the smell of him off of my body."

For years, Long has been an outspoken opponent of homosexuality.  In 2003, he lead a march through Atlanta opposing same-sex marriages.

Long, however, continues to deny the allegations that have been made against him.

Parris has a message for his old boss.

"While you can sit in front of the church and tell them that you categorically deny it?"  Parris said.  "You can't say that to our face. And you know this. You are not a man, you are a monster."

Last Sunday, Long told his congregations in Atlanta and Huntersville that he has been falsely accused and is under attack.  The members at his church in Huntersville heard Long's comments via satellite.

"I am not a perfect man, but this thing--I'm going to fight," Long said.

His statement was met by loud cheers and applause from the audience.  Long said he feels like "David against Goliath."

"I support my church and right now, we just have to wait and see and pray," Laura Simmons said after listening to Long's message.  "That's where we should be at, just pray. Pray for everyone, everyone involved."

"We believe in God first, and then man, and we back Bishop Long 100-percent," said church member Flora Brown.

Late last week, a fourth accuser, Spencer LeGrande, came forward alleging that Long coerced him into a sexual relationship.

In the lawsuit, LeGrande claimed he met Long in May of 2005.  The suit said Long was preaching at a conference in Charlotte on the topic of forgiving absent fathers.  Afterwards, LeGrande approached Long and LeGrande poured his heart out about his own absent father.

LeGrande's attorney, B.J. Bernstein, alleges that Long exploited the teen's situation and Long's position as a pastor to eventually coerce LeGrande into a sexual relationship.

The suit states the sexual relationship started when LeGrande was just 17 and lasted four years.

The lawsuit says Long took LeGrande on multiple trips to Africa where the two would sleep in the same bed and engage in sexual acts.  The suit also says Long gave LeGrande money, sent him on private jet flights, and had him stay in luxury hotels.

The lawsuit says because of Long, LeGrande gave up his dream to play college basketball and moved to Atlanta to go to school instead.  While LeGrande lived in Atlanta, the suit says he was given free places to live and continued his sexual relationship with LeGrande.

Bernstein said Bishop Long exploited his authority in a horrible way.  She says Long even used scripture to tell the young men the sexual relationship was not making them gay.

The lawsuit stated that Long later encouraged LeGrande to move from the Charlotte area to Atlanta, and the sexual misconduct continued until early 2009.  (Click to read Spencer LeGrande's lawsuit.)

The first two accusers who stepped forward are Anthony Flagg and Maurice Robinson.

Both of them alleged that Long, his church and church employees gave them cash and lavish gifts which ranged from cars to college tuition.  (Click here to read the legal complaints filed by Anthony Flagg and Maurice Robinson.)

According to the lawsuit, "defendant Long has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using his authority as Bishop over them to ultimately bring them to a point of engaging in a sexual relationship."

"He's bought a Mustang car, he's given money, he is on the payroll of New Birth Baptist Church," said B.J. Bernstein, the attorney representing Anthony Flagg.

"He accompanied the bishop everywhere the bishop went," Bernstein continued. "Including sharing a bed in the same hotel room on that trip and many others."

"Long shared a bedroom and engaged in intimate sexual contact with plaintiff Flagg including kissing, massaging, masturbating of plaintiff Flagg by defendant Long and oral sexual contact," the suit says.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount of punitive damages on various counts including negligence.

Long became pastor of New Birth in Atlanta in 1987 which now has more than 25,000 members.  He grew up in the Charlotte area and graduated from North Mecklenburg High School.

Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this story.